Contests

[Originally posted on my former blog, Michael Runs the Gamut]

As a former actor, I understand the trials of marketing oneself (and accept them, begrudgingly). Many of the things we do in life are contests of a sort. Job interviews are a competition against others to see who will win the prize of being hired. Auditions are job interviews in which the actor often competes publicly against his/her fellow job seekers. Writers submit queries or pitch their work to agents to hopefully join the ranks of the published.

Gaining access to the agents is a sometimes difficult and costly thing (at conferences, for example). But contests can sometimes help get your work noticed. Are they worth doing? Of course they are.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an event called the 3-Day Novel Contest. It’s similar to NaNoWriMo, except the contestants only have three days instead of thirty (over the Labor Day weekend) to write a much shorter novel than NaNo’s goal of 50,000 words. The end result is usually closer to a very long short story, or very short novella, take your pick. At the end of three days, I was exhausted, but had a reasonably constructed novelette that actually was coherent. A miracle. It was an eighty-six page, 20,300 word supernatural medical mystery called Everything’s Okay at Restful Pines.

The winner of the contest gets their “novel” published. Obviously, that would be a prize worth having. The winner will be announced sometime early next year, so I will edit and polish the story some more while I wait.

Having an agent look at some of my other writing in the meantime would be a good thing. I have one finished novel, If a Butterfly, which (I have stated elsewhere) is way too long for most agents to consider, so it might soon take a back burner to my second novel, The Jagged Man, which needs some more rehearsing before it can go on the stage.

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[Update: February 12, 2021]: Butterfly did get put on hold while I finished and published The Jagged Man (in 2015). You can get The Jagged Man (in ebook format) here.
https://www.amazon.com/Jagged-Man-Michael-Sirois-ebook/dp/B00SXP1J2W

Another book stepped into my lineup after that, a non-fiction book about how my brother ended up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s called Aggravated: The True Story of How a Series of Lies Sent an Innocent Man to Prison. Quite a mouthful. We just usually call it Aggravated. It’s available in both print and ebook versions here.
https://www.amazon.com/Aggravated-True-Story-Innocent-Prison/dp/1732790302/

It’s Butterfly’s turn next. Find out more about that at its website.
https://www.ifabutterfly.com/

 Everything’s Okay at Restful Pines didn’t win the 3-Day Novel contest, but I did rework and edit it into something I like. I’m thinking of including it in a collection of poems and other short stories called A Mixed Bag. I might look at publishing that after Butterfly.

 I did win a contest I entered in 2020. I submitted the first page of If a Butterfly in the Gutsy Great Novelist Page One contest, and won second place out of 604 entrants.
https://gutsygreatnovelist.com/page-one-prize-winners-2020/

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Anything you can do to receive honest criticism of your work can be useful to you as a writer. Have you entered any contests? What was your experience? Let me know below.

Michael

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